Are you looking for a way to fund your dream project or support your cause? The act of making a new product, an innovation program or creating a new service can be very exciting. When planning any venture, leadership has to answer the question: How do we fund this idea?
It breaks my heart to hear stories of teachers and faculty struggling to serve their students because funding is tight. A huge barrier to adopting new educational technology is cost. As we try to prepare our students to become the next generation of leaders, innovators, and teachers, it becomes imperative to provide technology resources to our students. Access to educational technology and resources is especially challenging in our poorest neighbourhoods. We do not want to increase divide between the rich and poor because of a lack of tools and resources. How can we empower the community to help?
To share a personal story, my wife has been researching ways that she can offer an undergraduate research program at her school. We have been exploring DIY Biology and related web sites, to find ways to establish a research lab at lower cost. As grant funding becomes more competitive, we have started exploring other research alternatives.
What is Crowd Funding?
“Crowd funding” is a movement enabling leaders and makers to ask their community to financially support a cause or project. Don’t non-profit communities already do this? Why is this new? I believe the movement of “crowd funding” works well due to the network effects of the Internet. If an idea is worth sharing, it will be shared! If a cause addresses a deep need in the community, the community will respond, share and help.
As we have researched this topic, I wanted to share a few insights, links and resources that can help you fund your cause or idea using “crowd funding.”
How to Fund Your Idea with Crowd Funding?
1) Find ways to add value to your community today: Are there ways that you can share insight and knowledge with your community today using social media or a blog? How can you serve your community today with information or practical tips? There is research showing that having 1000 FaceBook connections that are your “raving fans” increases the probability that you can fund your idea using a crowd funding site. Building a community around your idea is your first step. (Refer to “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon)
2) Cast your vision and tell your story: As you design your crowd funding campaign, it’s very important to communicate your story with clarity. The story should include a brief elevator pitch summarizing your idea. Whether you are presenting a project or cause, it’s also important to connect your community with the mission and vision driving it. You may consider reviewing the excellent TED talk by Simon Sinek that provides insights into how great leaders inspire action.
3) Learn from others: As we have started the process of researching crowd funding options for Sarah, we have found value in review project ideas that won and lost. For the Kickstarter community, you can use tools like http://www.kicktraq.com to gain insight into the velocity of various project ideas. How did the better projects present their story? If a project did not succeed in funding, what were the lessons learned?
4) Don’t forget about incentive planning: Some crowd funding websites require projects to include an incentive program. When planning the amount that you need to raise for your project, make sure you account for costs related to your incentives. You need to make sure to forecast the funding of all your incentives in addition to the costs related to funding your project.
5) Additional reading and inspiration
- Nice executive summary of various crowd funding sites:http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/crowdfunding-sites/
- Free Book on running a Kickstarter Project: http://kickstarterguide.com/files/2012/07/A-Kickstarters-Guide.pdf
- The untold story behind Kickstarter stats [infographic]
- “The Dynamics of Crowdfunding: Determinants of Success and Failure” by Ethan R. Mollick – University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School